Meeting with Asian countries on Measures to cope with Ballistic Missile Proliferation and MTCR Draft International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC)
(Welcoming Statement by the State Secretary)

March 2, 2001

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentleman,


It is truly a great pleasure for me as Parliamentary Secretary overseeing disarmament and non-proliferation, to say a few words on behalf of the Host Government on the occasion of the opening of this "Discussion on Measures to cope with Ballistic Missile Proliferation and possible International Code of Conduct." Let me first extend to you all my heartfelt welcome and gratitude for gathering from so many different countries for this event.

(The environment for international security in the post-Cold War era)

The end of the Cold War has generated expectations for a favorable international environment in which peace and security can be achieved. Contrary to such expectations, however, we have witnessed a dramatic surge in regional conflicts and disputes arising from ethnic, religious and other differences that had been contained in the past in the context of East-West confrontation. During this period, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles has steadily proceeded, constituting an even more serious impediment to peace and stability than in the past.

(The position of disarmament and non-proliferation in Japan's foreign policies)

Under these circumstances, Foreign Minister Kono is placing great emphasis on "efforts towards global peace focusing on disarmament and non-proliferation" making this one of the four pillars of Japan's diplomatic agenda. Japan regards, in its sincere quest for lasting world peace, disarmament and non-proliferation as areas in which it has to lead the entire world one step closer to the realization of the supreme ideals enshrined in the United Nations charter or the Japanese Constitution. With this in mind, Japan actively took part in 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons held in last April and May. We also drafted and submitted a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly last fall. "A path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons" resolution, designed to draw out concrete directions and steps that would lead to the realization of a "nuclear-free world," gained overwhelming support from wide range of UN member states and was finally adopted. Thus, the elimination of nuclear weapons has now become a realistic agenda for the entire international community. In short, considerable progress has been achieved in the efforts to cope with proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. On the contrary, efforts in the field of ballistic missiles, namely how to tackle the problem of the production, possession, proliferation etc. of these missiles, have not been very active to date, seen from the viewpoint of the international community as a whole.

(Asian dimensions)

Mainly because of these circumstances I described above, the proliferation of ballistic missiles presents us today with a grave challenge as a problem bearing directly on regional stability as well as global peace and security.

In particular, I would like to point out that virtually all issues that have made the headlines of the press in recent years regarding missiles have had more or less to do with Asia. From a different perspective, Asian nations, as a result of their economic development and maturity, are today seen to be as potential suppliers of missile-related technologies for other countries seeking to acquire missile technologies of their own.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Under these circumstances, the need to cope with these issues on the global front has never been more explicitly perceived and recognized than today. Efforts within the framework of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to set up international norms for ballistic missiles are a reflection of this situation. Japan has long attached great importance to concerted multilateral actions within the MTCR framework. It has been sincerely exerting all its efforts to stop the proliferation of missiles. Nearly all countries participating in the MTCR, however, are Europeans and it may become necessary for us to question ourselves as to whether the Asian viewpoint is adequately reflected within the MTCR, despite Japan's endeavors to articulate this as the only participating country from Asia.

(Expectation for the discussion, expectations for Asian nations)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The proliferation of missiles has a direct effect on stability and security in Asia. It is an issue that the international community should jointly address. The role of Asian countries, in this regard, is extremely important. We have undertaken to host this meeting as the first attempt of this sort, but we fully intend to continue to cooperate closely with the other countries of Asia in the future as well. In closing, may I express my sincere hope that a vigorous exchange of views will take place at today's meeting, and that it will produce fruitful result which will assist future international efforts in this field.

Thank you very much.

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